Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 48 [XIX.]--Practice of Cyprian and Ambrose.
What, then, hinders us, when we read of God's foreknowledge in some commentators on God's word, and they are treating of the calling of the elect, from understanding the same predestination? For they would perchance have rather used in this matter this word which, moreover, is better understood, and which is not inconsistent with, nay, is in accordance with, the truth which is declared concerning the predestination of grace. This I know, that no one has been able to dispute, except erroneously, against that predestination which I am maintaining in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. Yet I think that they who ask for the opinions of commentators on this matter ought to be satisfied with men so holy and so laudably celebrated everywhere in the faith and Christian doctrine as Cyprian and Ambrose, of whom I have given such clear testimonies; and that for both doctrines -- that is, that they should both believe absolutely and preach everywhere that the grace of God is gratuitous, as we must believe and declare it to be; and that they should not think that preaching opposed to the preaching whereby we exhort the indolent or rebuke the evil; because these celebrated men also, although they were preaching God's grace in such a manner as that one of them said, |That we must boast in nothing, because nothing is our own;| and the other, |Our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power;| yet ceased not to exhort and rebuke, in order that the divine commands might be obeyed. Neither were they afraid of its being said to them, |Why do you exhort us, and why do you rebuke us, if no good thing that we have is from us, and if our hearts are not in our own power?| These holy men could by no means fear that such things should be said to them, since they were of the mind to understand that it is given to very few to receive the teaching of salvation through God Himself, or through the angels of heaven, without any human preaching to them; but that it is given to many to believe in God through human agency. Yet, in whatever manner the word of God is spoken to man, beyond a doubt for man to hear it in such a way as to obey it, is God's gift.